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Bogotá, Colombia: Insider’s Guide

by Marc Beale and Boris Seckovic | February 25, 2019

The insider advice on this page is from two of Wendy’s Trusted Travel Experts for Colombia: Marc Beale and Boris Seckovic of Amakuna Travel.

Trusted Travel Expert
Marc Beale and Boris Seckovic

After these British expats found love in Colombia (both live in Medellin and are married to locals), they sought out a way to earn a living in their adopted home—and saw an opportunity to become the first high-end travel company based in this diverse and emerging destination. Now fully ensconced in the culture, Marc and Boris are constantly traveling the length and breadth of Colombia to discover and develop new opportunities for their travelers, from paragliding in coffee country to stargazing in the desert with an astronomy professor. They can arrange for you to cook alongside a cutting-edge chef, visit an Amazon lodge that works hand-in-hand with the community, explore Bogota’s gallery scene with an art expert, or road-trip between indigenous villages and UNESCO-quality pre-Hispanic sites. They are well connected at the country’s handful of boutique hotels; for larger parties that want some room to spread out, Marc and Boris also have a portfolio of private homes and fincas, some of which aren’t available to the public.

Prices start at $800 per day for two travelers, which includes boutique 4-star accommodations and private excursions with special access.

What to See and Do

street art in Bogota

Bogota has a vibrant street art scene. Photo:  Amakuna

Most underrated experience
The art scene in Bogota is electrifying and cool. Art has liberated this city, and that is conveyed by the ubiquity of street art and the profusion of galleries and exhibitions. You will see many tangible expressions of a Colombia in the midst of its renaissance. Explore the new art district in the San Felipe neighborhood (between 72nd and 80th streets/Caracas and 24th avenues) or check out The Gold Museum, The Botero Museum, or the Museum of Modern Art.

Cheap thrill
Stroll through Paloquemao Market, a dynamic local scene and the largest food market in Bogota. You’ll find a bountiful variety of produce not available in other parts of the world. Our guides can point you to the best flavors amid the chaos, including the lesser-known eateries that lack signage. If you go solo, the sweet spot for visiting is 11am, after the locals have finished their morning shopping, so the vendors have time to chat and offer samples.

How to spend a lazy Sunday
The flea market in the Usaquen neighborhood has a lively atmosphere and is family-friendly.  It’s open every Sunday from 11am to 4pm. You can stroll for hours among the myriad stalls, finding bizarre and unique items from hand-knit sweaters to antique coffee makers.

Where to Stay and Eat

Best bang-for-your-buck hotel
The Sofitel Victoria Regia is an elegant, French-style hotel located near the trendy and upscale Zona-T; you can walk from here to any number of great bars and restaurants. The service here is impeccable and it’s the best hotel breakfast in Bogota. It’s worth paying slightly more to upgrade from the Classic rooms to the Superior category, which are a bit larger and better positioned; the Junior Suites come with a separate living area and balcony.

bar area Four Seasons Casa Medina Bogota Colombia

Four Seasons Casa Medina. Photo: Four Seasons

Best-value splurge hotel
Four Seasons Casa Medina is the city’s most luxurious option, located in an exclusive neighborhood and housed inside an iconic 1946 building. No two of its incredibly ornate rooms are alike, but all are full of character. Our favorite is number 303, a very spacious one-bedroom suite with its own wood-burning fireplace and a huge bathroom.

Restaurants the locals love
Mini-mal in Chapinero: It’s cozily located in a traditional Bogotano home and serves a contemporary spin on Colombian cuisine. Try the blowfish with lulo sauce.

Cafe Amarti in Usaquen: A rustic and relaxed Italian restaurant where you can enjoy a delicious wood-fire pizza while mixing with locals.

Siete Cabras in Quinta Camacho: Choose from casual Mediterranean dishes—we’re partial to the bandiola braised pork—and relax in this restaurant’s industrial-chic atmosphere.

Dish to try
Lechona, a classic Colombian party dish: You can’t go wrong with a pig that’s been slow-roasted for hours, liberally seasoned with herbs and spices and stuffed with rice, egg, and vegetables. This absolutely delicious dish is widely available in Paloquemao market (see “Cheap Thrill”).

Meal worth the splurge
Restaurant Leo is a bold journey through the history and diversity that exists in Colombia.  It is run by critically acclaimed chef Leonor Espinosa and her daughter Laura, who is the sommelier. Their tasting menu beautifully blends Colombian culture and tradition with modern technique, using indigenous Colombian ingredients such as wild rodents, ants, or fish sourced from the Amazon. If you’re adventurous enough to try such dishes, Leo delivers a unique culinary experience that pays tribute to Bogota’s emerging and robust food scene.

Contact Marc and Boris

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Best Times to Go

Bogota’s climate holds constant year-round, and no matter the month, you’ll find plenty to see and do in Colombia’s cosmopolitan capital. ARTBO, an art fair that is steadily gaining international recognition, takes place every October.

Worst Time to Go

The last two weeks of December: The city empties out when people go home for the holidays. The upside is that you’ll bypass unpleasant crowds, but some restaurants and attractions will be closed.

Can't Miss Photo Op

Only 45 minutes north of Bogota sits Zipaquira, a Spanish colonial-style town popularized by a cathedral built 650 feet underground in an abandoned salt mine. Leave plenty of time to weave through the various tunnels and arches. It’s never overly crowded, and the neon lights and shadows make for an Instagram-worthy photo shoot.

Don't Forget To Pack

A lightweight umbrella or raincoat to keep with you at all times. Colombians laugh when you ask if they’ve checked the forecast: Weather is known to change frequently here. The good news is that when it rains, it doesn’t last long.

The Souvenir

The purest emeralds on earth are mined in Colombia and can far exceed the cost of diamonds that are the same size. You’ll find reputable shops selling high-quality stones in Bogota’s Emerald District.

Bragging Rights

Bogota is Colombia’s cultural and artistic epicenter, so we love to connect travelers with noteworthy locals who can explain better than anyone the way art and innovation have shaped this blossoming city. Travelers can enjoy exclusive tours of artists’ homes, galleries, and studios; meet the directors of art institutes; view extensive private collections; take an after-hours tour of the Gold Museum; or speak with Jose Roca, a globally recognized curator who introduced Bogota to the international art world.

Reviews

An itinerary that kept…

Barbara Palter | May 8, 2019

We felt there was real value…

Melissa Pollack | March 31, 2019

Very pleased with Marc...

Karen Dalton | December 5, 2018
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